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millennials guide to marriage multi ethnic couple park students college

It wasn’t long ago when most adults married in their early-to-mid 20s.  My, how times have changed.  Millennials are largely delaying marriage until their late 20s or 30s as they prioritize their career and financial stability.  The bottom line is making a lifelong commitment to another person is scary and intimidating.  Heed the advice detailed below and marriage, along with its financial challenges, won’t prove nearly as intimidating.

Discuss Finances Before Marrying

Be open and honest about your personal finances with your significant other prior to marrying.  The last thing you want is for your spouse to be caught by surprise when you mention your credit score, lack of savings or other financial nuances.  The same should prove true for your significant other.  The love of your life should be completely forthright about his or her financial picture prior to broaching the subject of marriage. 

Tell the Truth About Your Financial History

If you have declared bankruptcy, have a poor credit score, are saddled with student loans or have had other financial problems in your past, your soon-to-be-spouse deserves to know.  Tell the truth about your financial woes as well as your financial successes long before the day when you pop the question.

 The moral of this story is your finances are a part of your identity.  Your future spouse deserves to know about your unique financial picture prior to committing to you for the long haul.  After all, a low credit score, an abundance of debt, a prior bankruptcy and even a foreclosure can make it difficult to start a new life together.

Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

Couples of all socioeconomic statuses can benefit from prenuptial agreements.  Even if you own precious few assets and don’t have much in terms of savings, you should consider the merits of a prenuptial agreement.  Such an agreement protects your assets, shields you from being held responsible for your spouse’s debt and makes it that much easier to pass your property on to your kids or others.

Create a Financial Management Game Plan

Sit down with your significant other to discuss how each of you have managed your distinct finances.  Determine each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Assign financial duties to each based on your respective track record of success and you will find money management proves that much easier across posterity.  As an example, your fiancé might be better at budgeting for groceries while you might be particularly knowledgeable about investing and retirement planning.

Keep Debt to a Minimum

Starting off your marriage with a considerable amount of debt will put a damper on your marriage.  If you are overloaded with debt, it will linger over your matrimonial union similar to an ominous black cloud.  Try to pay down your debt prior to tying the knot, buy a home at a reasonable price and resist the temptation to add even more debt after qualifying for a home loan.  Consider a (temporary) minimalist lifestyle for the year or two after marrying allowing you to save money, and you will feel as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.  All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.